EC President addresses Macedonian MPs ahead of a vote on French proposal: Europe is waiting for you,

“Europe is waiting for you. Waiting and hoping that you will take another step towards our Union. I am here today, because I believe that this is the moment to move forward towards our common future in the EU with North Macedonia as a full member”, said the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, in her address to the MPs in the Parliament of Macedonia, before the debate on the French proposal. Dear Macedonians, the Macedonian language is yours and we respect that, she said.

“Honourable members, many of you will be understandably frustrated that your country has not yet begun accession negotiations. I am too, ” she said, adding that if MPs backed the French proposal, European Commission will start the process of screening the acquis immediately. 

“This is the first step in the negotiation process”, Von der Leyen explained and emphasised that accession negotiations start “as soon as next week”. “We are convinced that this is of historic importance. But the decision is yours to take and yours alone”, she added. 

In her address to MPs, which was interrupted at several points, von der Leyen made a case for the proposal, which she said, “protects your interests and addresses the concerns of all sides. Be reassured that the Commission that has always stood beside this country continues to do so today and will continue to be there with you tomorrow and the day after.”

She also underlined that “there can be no doubt that the Macedonian language is your language. We fully respect that,” she added, triggering a round of applause and cheers from the room. 

“That’s why the revised proposal refers to the Macedonian language, without qualification by the EU. The proposal also respects your national identity,” she went on. 

She praised the country for its work to crack down on corruption, enhance the rule of law, and protect human rights and the rights of all communities. She also said that “benefits will accrue” in terms of foreign investments, and trade links if lawmakers agree to “opening this door” to accession negotiations.

“Do the right thing for the peace and prosperity of North Macedonia, a soon-to-be member of the European Union. The future of your country is in the European Union. And Europe is not complete without North Macedonia,” she said.

During Von der Leyen’s address, the MPs from the opposition took out banners “traitors of the people”, “language and identity”, “the people say no, come to your senses” and others, and on the rostrum in front of the President of the EC Dimitar Apasiev and Borislav Krmov from the Left they left a leaflet with the message NO, after which they left the hall.

The session was attended by President Stevo Pendarovski, Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski, as well as senior representatives from the country and abroad.

While the address of the president of the EC was going on, there was a protest in front of the Parliament, slogans were shouted, and demonstrators threw eggs and toilet paper at the Parliament building.